Miguel Angel Lopez, third place in the general classification, has left the Vuelta during stage 20 apparently in a mix of frustration and anger.
The Colombian was caught on the wrong side of a split in the favorites group as Primoz Roglic, Enric Mas, Adam Yates, and Jack Haig headed up the road without him.
Patxi Vila and Imanol Erviti tried to get the Colombian on his bike, but without success. Lopez had a successful Vuelta with several top positions in important stages and a victory in the queen stage to the top of the Gamoniteiru.
“I didn’t see it,” said Jose Joaquin Rojas. “When I arrived to the group of Lopez, I thought they’d all be together, but then I tried to pull as hard as I could to get him back on the podium. I didn’t know he stepped off until they told me over the radio. To be honest, I was surprised myself. Everyone reacts differently to these kinds of situations. We all know he’s a big champion, but we can analyze this later and see if he had some problem with something.”
“As most of you have seen, the moment when the group split was a difficult situation, hard to resolve,” Lopez said in a team announcement.
“We saw ourselves getting into a difficult position when some of the best in the GC went ahead of us; Bahrain [Victorious] played its cards well, and it’s hard to close a gap like that, even if it’s small, at this point of the Vuelta. Legs are so tired, the level is so high, and obviously, no one was going to help us out closing that small gap in that moment. It took long for us to react. There were so many factors involved and, in the end, it’s sad to see La Vuelta ending for me this way.”
The 27-year-old rider, who is in his first season with Movistar, still has a contract with the Spanish team until 2023.
“We saw that Roglic was going for me, and I had to follow, but I couldn’t pull because I had Miguel Angel behind me,” said Enric Mas, who had journalists tell him at the line that Lopez left the race. “I didn’t know anything about that. Even if Lopez left the race, we can happy with what we’ve done and hopefully a podium.”